Thomas R. Insel, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), recently posted a list of 10 breakthroughs and events of 2011 that he feels are changing the landscape of mental health research. Included in the list was and the discovery that developing brains have unique molecular signatures made possible by new methods of transcriptome analysis.
2. Transcriptome: Developing Brains Have Unique Molecular Signatures.
Messenger RNAs, or transcripts, are intermediate products that carry the message from DNA, the genetic blueprint, to create proteins, and ultimately, the many different cell types throughout the brain. Each gene can make several transcripts, which are expressed in patterns unique to each of us. To better understand how these patterns of gene expression influence the developing brain, NIMH supported the first map of how RNA expression changes across the life span through two parallel studies of postmortem brains, ranging in age from two weeks after conception to 80 years old … (read more)